In a time where personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks are in high demand for healthcare workers, many in Middle Georgia are threading their needles to answer the call.
The number of people making masks for nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and sick patients grows everyday — with many connecting and making work groups through Facebook.
One of those groups, Macon Mask Makers, has only been set up for a week but has over 200 members dedicated to ensuring those on the front lines have what they need.
Judy Ray is one sewer who meets with friends weekly to sew regardless of what’s going on. She says when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was no question about what her next project would be.
“I don’t feel very talented in many things, but I do have this gift. I think that we are commanded if we are given a certain talent, by good, to use it. It’s just the joy of my heart to use it right now,” says Ray.
Ray says she’s made over 100 masks and won’t be slowing down as long as has the supplies to keep making more.
And the creators of another group, Sewing for Middle Georgia, say that although no one wakes up wanting to make masks, they’ll also keep making them until they’re no longer needed.
“They are going to nonprofits, they are going to hospitals, they are going to fire men, law enforcement, doctors offices,” says Tracey Garner. “We have to remember that we are a part of a community, and we all have our parts to play.”
Garner understands that homemade masks aren’t the same as medical-grade masks, but she says they help protect medical masks to make them last longer, if needed.
“We are just providing something that will sustain, or help, or support in the situation,” she adds.
Sabrina Potter, also with Sewing for Middle Georgia, says her group has been working with midstate healthcare facilities to ensure the right masks are being made with the right materials, and then being distributed to the correct places.
“People sew different patterns, and we are finding the people who will take all of those different patterns and making sure that the mask are going to hold up through the sterilization process when they go to the hospitals,” says Potter.
Garner says the fabric used to make the masks must be washed in hot water before being distributed, and request people to avoid fabric softeners. She also recommends that mask makers do not use glue or any other substance that could fall off masks while they are in use.
Michelle Gibbs, one sewer who’s donating her skills, says she’s already made 200 masks in about a week. “We’ve been working as hard as we can to get as many out as fast as we can to protect as many people as we can,” Gibbs says.
In total, the group has received about 600 masks and is expecting thousands more. Gibbs says she isn’t stopping anytime soon.
“Until they tell me that the supply lines have opened back up, I’m going to continue to dedicate hours to making masks so that they have what they need to do their jobs safely,” she says.
Anyone who wants to help but doesn’t know how to sew can donate fabric, elastic, and other supplies.
Both groups have non-contact drop off locations in Macon. Sewing for Middle Georgia also has locations in Warner Robins.
Sewing for Middle Georgia request people put their masks in plastic seal-able bags with a description of what materials and cutting pattern were used in order to distribute them to the correct facilities.
Find Macon Mask Makers and Sewing for Middle Georgia on Facebook for the drop off locations as well as more information on how masks should be made.